Kia goes (dark) green

Published: 23 September 2008

Kia has unveiled a portfolio of new environmental technologies, including a 1.4-litre Ceed with stop-start (due in the UK in 2009), a Ceed hybrid and the latest version of its fuel cell-powered Sportage.

The Korean manufacturer is investing heavily in research and development and will increase its spend on R&D from £2.2 billion this year to £2.6 billion by 2010, combined with a 40 percent increase in manpower at its research centres around the globe.

What is Kia spending on?

The money is being spent on developing downsized, turbocharged engines, efficiency improvements to conventional engines such as friction reduction and the separation of accessories like water pumps from the engine. The electrification of the drivetrain is also seen as a priority together with stop-start, hybrid and fuel-cell powertrains.

New, low-rolling resistance tyres developed with Michelin are expected to shave 4g/km from the CO2 output of cars they are fitted to. We'll see them first on the Ceed ISG (Idle Stop and Go) in 2009.

Just where is all this R&D taking place?

Kia has R&D centres worldwide. 'At our Mabuk R&D centre in Korea, we have 250 people dedicated to environmental technologies alone,' said David Labrosse, manager for product planning in Europe.

Kia's main focus is on meeting the European Commission’s recommended fleet averages for CO2 of 130g/km for 2012. Beyond that, 'pulling the average down far enough for petrol engines alone will be difficult,' said Labrosse. With a further predicted reduction to 95g/km needed by 2020, Labrosse thinks the electrification of powertrains combined with increased diesel development will be essential.

And fuel cells?

Kia’s fuel cell programme, shared with parent company Hyundai, will move to the next phase when the current 80kW fuel cell stack is replaced by a 100kW (134hp) stack. Hydrogen storage tanks will be upped in pressure from 350bar to 700bar giving a range of up to 375 miles.

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